Cambodia and the Philippines Look at Boosting Tourism Links

President Rodrigo Duterte leaves after paying respects to a statue of the late king Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Wednesday. Picture from Samrang Pring, Reuters

The recent visit of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to Cambodia was followed by the signature of a bilateral agreement on tourism and transport development.

The Philippines and Cambodia on Wednesday signed four agreements that are expected to boost the bilateral cooperation between both countries, following the State visit of  Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte in Cambodia. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) over the development of cooperation in tourism cooperation for the years 2016-2020 was also reached between two countries.

The Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Teo and the Ministry of Tourism of the Kingdom of Cambodia Dr. Thong Khon signed an agreement that will start a series of programs that aims to revitalize tourism relations between the two countries.

Having forged an agreement, Teo said she expects a significant increase in Cambodian visitors’ arrivals , noting that Cambodia’s total number of visitors to the Philippines reached a disappointing 2,381 arrivals.

However, they are more and more Filipino travellers visiting Cambodia. In 2015, the Philippines generated 84,677 visitor arrivals to the small Kingdom, and for the first half of this year, the number already reached 70,680.

“Now is the best time to involve our Cambodian friends in our Tourism programs and initiatives. We would be happy to help them further as they promised to do the same for us,” Mrs. Teo said.

According to the signed Tourism Cooperation MoU, air accessibility and route development will be given priority. “Coordination with respective airline companies and civil aviation authorities will be undertaken towards the launch of direct flights from Manila to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap,” Teo disclosed.

The Tourism Cooperation Treaty between the two countries also stipulates the creation of a joint working group that will serve as a platform for both countries to highlight their commitment and share their experience in developing environmentally sustainable, socially responsible tourism programs as well as ways to promote cultural preservation programs. Both countries will also share their own experience over tourism activities’ governance, enforcement of tourism laws and regulations, and conservation of cultural heritage sites.

Teo said it also has been agreed upon that the 3rd Joint working group will meet in Siem Reap in June 2017 while the fourth meeting will take place in the Philippines in the last quarter of 2017.

To strengthen awareness of tourism destinations and products in both countries, familiarization tours and exchange programs for tourism and hospitality students and professionals will be further enhanced, according to the agreement.

(Source: Philippines News Agency PNA)